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Healthy Chocolate Candy Ingredient Alternatives

Chocolate candy manufacturers believed cocoa butter was crucial to achieving the delicious chocolate candy customers craved.  Even as cocoa butter alternatives were later discovered, many still argued that nothing was better than the original.  As consumer health needs grew and the climbing price of using cocoa butter ironically forced manufacturers to look for cost-saving options, the use of alternatives has offered new chocolate candy options which both serve customer health needs and offer more competitive material costs.

Recently, Hershey’s vowed to keep cocoa butter in its products with their “real chocolate” marketing campaign.  With a major product with dominant market share, the Hershey’s signature bar, they can afford to take this approach.  However, there is a sizable segment of the chocolate flavor loving population that view conventional bars made with cocoa butter as not a viable option. 

There are some who simply cannot digest cocoa butter’s particular type of vegetable fat.   Others have more serious allergic reactions such as hives, rash and digestion issues.  However these consumers still love the taste of chocolate.  For these chocoholics, natural substitutes like coconut oil or ingredients like soybean oil do the job as well as (and arguably better than) the original, without the health problems.

Chocolate makers also like alternatives for their ability to help control melting thresholds and because they are easier to process.  There is also the fact that they offer a cost savings in material.  Industry analysts cite a huge jump in candy prices last year.   Insiders say it’s because the cost of ingredients, such as cocoa butter, that have skyrocketed and unfortunately passed on to the buyers.

Unfortunately, US regulations promote cocoa butter’s hierarchy by reserving the “chocolate” label only for candy made with it.  These same restrictions do not exist in other parts of the world.  For instance, in Europe up to 5% of a product’s ingredients may contain cocoa butter equivalents and still be considered chocolate.  Experts believe that equivalents are the closest that you can get to cocoa butter in terms of their fatty acids and are commonly a mix of shea and palm oils.  Not surprisingly, the equivalent category of alternatives is also the most expensive, but still about half the cost of cocoa butter.

Typically, cocoa butter can cost over 3 times as much as other alternatives.  Producing chocolate with low melting points is nice, but saving money is usually the first reason manufacturers start considering replacements, substitutes or equivalents.   While some companies chose not to use alternatives, others feel l they have no choice and have to substitute to remain cost competitive.  This is the irony, the pressure to control material costs has created new product categories and new healthy options for chocolate lovers.


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